Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Queen has arrived

Zenyatta is now in Kentucky awaiting her Saturday race in The Breeder's Cup Classic. Never losing a race in her career, she is currently 19 for 19. Staurday is the last race of her career and I hope the racing gods help her spread wings and run a monster race on Saturday so she can win the race and retire with a perfect 20 for 20. Zenyatta is an astounding work of art - she is absolutely amazing. I saw her in person at DelMar this summer and she is more magnificent than any work of art. If you don't recognize her brilliance you are a dullard, have no soul or no clue as to what art truly is - you are but a clueless and superficial dilettante.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aunt Jane

My Aunt Jane was found dead yesterday. She was in her seventies, had COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and emphysema. Her grandson,who had been staying with her, found her on the floor, at the foot of her bed, with her inhaler in her hand. Unlike some people who have nothing but selfish bones in their bodies, Aunt Jane had not one selfish bone in her entire body. She was one of the kindest people in the world and was always thinking of and doing for others. She was married to my mother's brother (Herbert, nicknamed "Blue", died many years ago). She was also the mother of my cousin Carla who was found dead at age 40 at the end of January of this year. My cousins Butch (actually he's Herbert II) and Todd now have to bury another family member (Aunt Jane was in the hospital in January with COPD issues when Carla was found dead and was not able to attend the funeral services) within 7 months. The services are the later part of this week.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On A Day Like Today...

August 15, 1967.- René François Ghislain Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist died today. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images.

His intended goal for his work was to challenge observers' preconditioned perceptions of reality and force viewers to become hypersensitive to their surroundings.

The Magritte Museum is the first museum dedicated to Belgian painter Rene Magritte, best known for his surrealism.

Images Shown;
The False Mirror
The Son of Man
This is Not a Pipe

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I Saw Perfection Today

My comments about the race to come - I'm still digesting them

(Each summer, Del Mar hires a Press Box Steward, the young guy or gal who does the nitty-gritty things to make sure the track's Media contingent has what they need in order to do their jobs. The roster of individuals who have served in that role is long and varied, ranging from racing veterans to first-time starters at the track. This year our guy is Jeff Newton, freshly graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Communications and a writing resume that includes television and on-line. He's a big sports fan, but a rookie at the racing game (though he's picking it up fast). Here's his take on an event that stirred his sporting blood -- Zenyatta's run in Saturday's Clement L. Hirsch.)

Zenyatta, the Champion,Works the Crowd Just Like One
Throngs of exuberant racing fans poured in shortly after 11:30 Saturday morning, almost seven hours before super mare Zenyatta made her way onto the track at Del Mar. The turnstiles finally stopped spinning after she had captured her third consecutive Grade I Clement Hirsch Stakes in front of 32,536 mesmerized onlookers.

Much as gallery members at a PGA event inch and elbow their way to get a good look at Tiger Woods in the flesh, Zenyatta lovers made it their mission to steal more than a quick glance at the undefeated star. On a typical San Diego afternoon, marked by sunny skies and a cool ocean breeze, the massive crowd chose to spend its day on a race that lasted 1:45:03, not even two minutes, about the time it takes to brush your teeth in the morning.

Zenyatta's fans still wouldn't have changed a thing.

The mare enjoys a type of hero worship often reserved for sporting legends like Armstrong, Phelps and Ali at every turn. At Del Mar, her supporters created a buzz similar to what you might feel just before kickoff at an NFL playoff game. Their exuberance lasted throughout the afternoon and well into the early evening, as they soaked in every piece of the scenery.

It was a landmark event for both Del Mar and Thoroughbred racing in general. Outsiders unfamiliar with the regular track scene could still sense the energy and atmosphere behind a unique, momentous occasion.

Zenyatta is loved by all, and even the veteran horsemen and beat reporters who meticulously follow the mare's daily activities are among her biggest supporters.

Want to see a blue collar, grizzled, "all that is man" trainer or clocker go weak at the knees? Ask them to describe Zenyatta's influence and see how many superlatives they can string together. Keep a mental count of the "amazings," "incredibles" and "spectaculars" these lifers toss around without a hint of sarcasm. Better yet, intermittently check your watch to chronicle how their brief statements evolve into 10 minute monologues.

As crazy as it may sound, Zenyatta's superb qualities (see, the hyperboles have a way of catching on) justify all the heartfelt compliments.

She's the type of horse you build a meet around, let alone a day or a week. Whether she's galloping, trotting or posturing in the paddock, Zenyatta carries herself with pitch perfect grace, athleticism and personality. Her "it factor" immediately comes across to race rats and first-time patrons alike. The gazes and whispers aren't lost on Zenyatta. She senses her profound impact and relishes every second as a crowd pleaser.

Her confidence is easily detectable and you quickly grasp that she doesn't accept failure or embarrassment.

That's how I knew the Hirsch was over the moment Zenyatta crossed into the paddock at about 6:15. On a day that essentially became an ode to her remarkable career, what with the posters, T-shirts and pint glass giveaways with her face emblazoned across the surface, the great performer refused to let her audience down.

She went off at 1-9, but the tote board could have easily read 1-100 as she strutted towards the starting gate.

You don't know what this horse means until the show begins and the Zenyatta army kicks into full gear. Spectators go between 15 and 20 deep all the way down the stretch, with at least one small child perched atop their dad's shoulders every five feet or so.

The diva enters to a frenzy of screams and shouts that seem both genuine and spontaneous. You won't find any "Damn Yankees" mentality, where a few bad apples root against a proven winner just to appear edgy.No, Del Mar only had eyes for Zenyatta.

The rest of the pre-race festivities played out like a hall-of-fame induction ceremony, where the infield video monitor revisited some of Zenyatta's greatest performances as track announcer Trevor Denman articulately gushed over the prized animal.

While jockey Mike Smith and his wonderful ride weren't alone on the track, the other five jockeys and horses were little more than background props. Not to worry, though, they were too busy smiling along with everyone else. You almost forgot there was a race after all the hoopla.

Once the gates finally swung open, Zenyatta made winning by a neck look downright simple. (My note - Zenyatta had to go 4 wide in the race so, if you make all things equal when it comes to distance, she actually won by 6 1/2 lengths rather than a neck. This kid who wrote this article still has a lot to learn about horse racing)Although she didn't leave her competition in the dust , Zenyatta skillfully balanced a relaxed attitude with her fiery competitive streak. Smith kept Jerry and Ann Moss' wonder horse in the right spots and, like she always does, the golden girl passed a game Rinterval through the final furlong. Zenyatta wasn't on cruise control; it just appeared she was. Besides, she had to save her energy for the victory lap.

Over the top doesn't begin to describe the mare's salute to the fans, where the smiles, hugs and howls reach a wild crescendo. It's an adrenaline rush you can't even fathom. And that's where Zenyatta's true impact becomes perfectly clear.

Thoroughbred racing needs Zenyatta as an undefeated poster child. Tracks make their mark on big tickets nowadays, and they don't come any bigger than the Mosses' "miracle horse." Her presence brought some much needed romance to the sport of horse racing. Allowance races and maiden claimers have their place, sure, but it takes a winner like Zenyatta to capture the public's attention.

Her supporters, her peers and the game she dominates so consistently are all personally invested in the mare's success. She's a legend in her own right, a special talent worth the cost of admission and a full afternoon at the races.

Zenyatta's an easy sell and everything you'd ever want in a world class performer. She came to Del Mar with a sea of fans and left the track with the racing community wrapped around her hoof. She personifies all that is right in the sport.

Zenyatta led us all on a spectacular ride at Del Mar; Mike Smith just had the best seat.

Friday, August 6, 2010

14 Hands of Love on 17 Hands of Power

Jerry Moss, the show business star maker, business executive, member of the California Horse Racing Board, racehorse owner and breeder, and longtime racing fan, has seen his green and pink silks fly for the past four years on one of the most electrifying horses in the history of Thoroughbred sport, the undefeated champion Zenyatta.

This Saturday the massive mare -- who stands better than 17 hands and weighs more than 1,200 pounds -- will try for her 18th consecutive victory when she runs in Del Mar's Grade I, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, a race she has won the past two years.

Almost two months ago -- on June 9, 2010 to be exact -- Moss sat in his Beverly Hills office and spoke about his once-in-a-lifetime horse and what it means to him and others to have her be part of their lives. He spoke about her 'retirement,' and the subsequent process to return her to racing. The conversation took place just four days before Zenyatta would add a 17th victory to her ledger with a thrilling run through the Hollywood Park stretch to capture the Vanity Handicap.

Q -- You've talked about the "magic" of owning a horse; especially a horse like Zenyatta. You've said you wish you could share that "magic" with others. Can you? Can you speak to what it means to have Zenyatta in your life?

Moss -- "She is perfection in a very important way. She didn't just happen to show up in the barn and then all of a sudden start winning all these races all in a row; it took a tremendous effort by a great group of people headed by (trainer) John Shirreffs. There are 14 different people that touch her every day*. It is quite amazing. And they're all just great to her and they all deserve a large part of this.
(*Stable manager Dottie Ingordo provided the list of 14 people who touch Zenyatta each day and it appears at the end of this piece.)

"I think it's everyone's dream that if people do their part, then you get brilliance from all that. You know, that if people work together something incredible happens and it is magic. It's sort of a harmonic convergence, if you will ... where everyone's working in the same direction and everyone gets a reward for being touched by this magnificent animal. So we're thrilled to be a part of it. I mean I've felt this happen sometimes in the record business where the campaign is just incredible, but yet the music is so touching and people reach out for it and it inspires so many people. So I'm used to having those other forces, if you will, inspire a willing audience. And this is what Zenyatta means to me -- she's been a great symbol for that.

"And to win 16 races is not an easy thing; every different track we ran on -- every different track has its conditions, everybody we ran against has their talent and, as you know, on any given day a horse can not have a great day. But she gets so much room from John -- room to improve, room to not, perhaps, do her best work on a certain day. But nothing is serious around her; everybody is having a good time with her, there's no nervousness, and there's no pressure. And it's up to her to do this performance, as long as she's having fun we'll continue doing this. She is one professional racehorse; she steps up, it seems, whenever she should.

"For me, it's a meaning of life in a way. People working together to make something great happen."

Q -- What was the decision process for you? She ran her magnificent race in the Breeders' Cup; she reached the mountaintop. And you said, 'OK, guys, that's it, we're going to shut it down.' But then, there was a change.

Moss -- "Well, I made an emotional decision because I was so taken by that race. I said, my god, how can I ask her to do anything else? And, of course, I didn't get a chance to talk to my wife about that; I didn't get a chance to talk to my trainer; I didn't talk to my racing manager (Dottie Ingordo, who also is married to John Shirreffs) -- who were a bit grumpy with me at the end of this thing, saying: 'We're Team Zenyatta and you made a decision.' Well, I said I feel strongly about that because what else can we ask her to do? And they all agreed with me on that -- what else can we ask her to do? She won an historic race in an historic fashion. Trevor Denman said it was the greatest race he's ever seen and he's called like 60,000 of them, or seen 60,000 of them.


Zenyatta: A Maker Of Memories To Cherish For All Time

Do you remember where you were when ... ???

It's always been a popular pastime for Americans in recalling momentous occasions, and in Thoroughbred racing where wagering is a major factor, jockey Mike Smith is betting he can place thousands, maybe millions, where they were and what they were doing on Saturday, November 7, 2009.

That's when Zenyatta, who seeks her 18th consecutive victory in Saturday's Clement L. Hirsch Stakes and third straight in the race, wrote history by becoming the first female to win the Breeders' Cup Classic. The thousands at Santa Anita that day and, doubtless, the millions watching on television surely would testify to Smith's belief.

Remembering how the Santa Anita crowd responded to the majestic Zenyatta, Smith could only say, "I think people realized that they had just seen something that they will never forget." And he counts himself among them, though he was involved far more than any other fan, being up close and personal as Zenyatta's rider.

"I've never seen a crowd react to a horse like that," Smith continued. "When I rode Holy Bull, the crowds -- especially those in Florida -- were impressed, but I've never seen a whole crowd stand on its feet like that for what seemed like 20 minutes. It just went on and on, and I started looking at the crowd and there were people crying [for joy]."

Looking back over his 14 races as regular jockey of the two-time Eclipse Award champion older female, Smith recalled that she wasn't always the picture of the perfect lady. "When we started," he said, "she was still pretty nervous and she didn't know exactly what was going on. But she was a quick study and it didn't take her long to figure it out.

"Not only did she figure it out," he continued, "she took it to levels I had never seen before. It's become a big show to her. Every time she gets ready to run, she plays, she strikes a pose, she does a dance, and sometimes stands up and towers over the field.

"You can almost imagine her saying, 'This place is mine,'" said the ebullient Smith.

"It's just amazing how she grew into this," he added. "If she was a country music star, she could be Entertainer of the Year."

Her special dance that charms paddock fans began to develop, Smith recalls, shortly after his second time aboard, at the same time Team Zenyatta, headed by trainer John Shirreffs, chose not to put her through normal pre-race warm-ups. Instead, she was allowed to just do what made her feel best, hence the dance -- basically, a strut that features a head bob and legs thrust forward in the manner of a Russian dancer.

"She used to get a little hot when she'd warm up," Smith remembers. "So we just walked her and that's when she decided she'd just do this dance. Then when she realized the people liked it, she just started doing it more. She's really just a ham at heart."

That doesn't mean she's not focused on her job -- to win races. When she reaches the gate, Smith says, she's all business -- but in a laid-back way. "She just settles down and waits for the gate to open. Then she watches them go out and goes out behind them."

As for getting home first, Smith said, "It's like she knows where the wire is anymore. She makes it a little closer than we all like sometimes. But I think we're the only ones that are worried.

"She's definitely a gift from God. She makes you think that if God wanted to get into this game, he would send her. She's not from here."

Zenyatta's presence has reached far and wide, conjuring wonderful visions of her other-worldly being, not the least of which was produced rhapsodically by free-lance writer Ellen Parker following Zenyatta's record-setting 17th consecutive victory in Hollywood Park's Grade I Vanity Handicap.

Here's her take on the majestic mare: "Zenyatta's dramatic charge in the Vanity brought to mind the words of respected journalist Kent Hollingsworth, who once wrote of 1971 European Horse of the Year Mill Reef: 'His races were not marked by sudden acceleration, just with relentless, increasing power.'

"Great horses have much in common. They stir the spirit of crowds ... They energize a sport ..."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Zenyatta and Sailing - Part Deux

Thoughts to come

Following is her mind blowing 2009 Breeder's Cup Classic

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Zenyatta and Sailing - Part Une

Yes, I know, there are no images of Zenyatta - but I'll get to that in a minute.

I received a really cool invite this morning to go sailing Thursday and Friday afternoon. And I.A.M.G.O.I.N.G.!!! I used to sail a lot when I was younger but I haven't done so in years and years and years and (well, you get the picture...). I absolutely love being out by or in the water as I was the complete water baby growing up. There is such a peacefulness and joy that comes over me when I'm with the water - whether it's looking at waves as they do their healing ebb and flow, swimming and getting into the rhythmic sync of my stroke and the water's response or sailing on her waters as she welcomes with her zen-ness.

So, come Thursday and Friday afternoon this lass will be getting her Zen on with the water whilst sailing for two afternoons of nirvana. Oh, and the part about Zenyatta? Well, she is shipping down from Inglewood to Del Mar tomorrow and will be schooled Thursday and Friday morning to see if she likes DelMar's Polytrack in determination of whether or not she'll race in Saturday's Hirsch Stakes. So, I'm going to go out to the track both mornings and watch The Lady, The Queen, run just to run and then go sailing both afternoons. What an absolutely delightful two days to come!

Above is a very cool video with Christopher Cross' "Sailing". If you've never had the chance to sail on board the tall ships and you get the chance, do it - they are magnificent. Also, lyrically, the song sums up my feelings about sailing and being on the water. In any event, enjoy the video and tomorrow I'll have some video to get you charged up about Zenyatta.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child

This film will be screening in San Diego on September 10th and I can't wait to see the documentary. The documentary is based on footage not seen in 20 years and, from all reviews, it's fabulous and provides insight into this oft misunderstood artist. If you ever seen the film Basquiat this new piece should serve as a wonderful bookend. Anyway, I've already marked my calendar for the 10th.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Elvis May Have Left The Building But His Piano Hasn't - It's Just Looking For Someone With a Cool Million +

MEMPHIS, TN.- Elvis Presley's beloved White Knabe Grand Piano, as featured in his music room at Graceland from 1957 to 1969, is expected to bring $1,000,000+ as the centerpiece of Heritage Auctions' Signature® Elvis Memorabilia Auction, Aug. 14, in Memphis, TN.

“This elegant musical instrument, so well-loved and played by Elvis, is presented with wonderful provenance back to the 1930s,” said Doug Norwine, Director of Music & Entertainment Auctions at Heritage, “not to mention that it was an emotionally-charged prized possession of the King himself.”

The Knabe piano, besides being owned by Elvis for more than a decade, is a storied set of keys that occupied the position as the house piano in Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, TN from the early 1930s through 1957, when Elvis himself bought it and had it refurbished in white. Not only is it an instrument that Elvis loved to play in his own home, it is also the very piano played by his favorite gospel performers at revivals that Elvis attended as a boy, during which, as an enthralled member of the audience, he surely must have dreamed of his own future stardom.

“During the 1930s, 1940s, and early 1950s, the stage at Ellis Auditorium was graced by the greatest local and national touring musical acts of the period including W. C. Handy, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, and certainly many, many others,” said Norwine. “In 1957, this Knabe grand piano was sold during a remodeling project at the Ellis. He could have afforded any piano on the planet, but when Elvis heard this one was for sale, he didn’t hesitate.”

The piano is the emotional centerpiece of an auction that features a number of truly spectacular pieces of Elvis memorabilia, more than 270 in all, that reads like nothing less than a Pop Culture survey of the mid-Twentieth Century, when Elvis was ubiquitous and easily one of the greatest stars on the planet.

Among these important pieces, it is hard to imagine one that had a greater impact on the direction of both Pop Culture and Rock and Roll than Elvis’ legendary 1955 original personal services contract with RCA Records, signed at Sun Records on Nov. 21 by Elvis, his father, Colonel Tom Parker and an RCA Executive. It is estimated at $150,000+.

“This was the deal that led to the transformation of a 20 year-old Memphis boy from a popular Southern act recording on the regional Sun Records label,” said Norwine, “into an international superstar with the full power of the large and prestigious RCA label behind him. This astonishing document is considered by many to be the most desirable, important, and valuable recording contract ever signed. There is not an Elvis fan anywhere that is not familiar with this document; there is not an Elvis fan anywhere that wouldn't want to add it to his or her collection.”

There can be almost no mention made of The King without mentioning his famous Memphis mansion Graceland, and this auction features a key piece of Graceland memorabilia: the Elvis Presley and parents signed Graceland Sales Contract, a three-page real estate purchase agreement for Graceland, dated March 26, 1957. It carries an estimate of $35,000+.

Another one of the truly premier lots of the auction, and certainly the most personal, is an Elvis handwritten and signed four-page letter written to his then-girlfriend Anita Wood in 1958, just after Elvis entered the army, estimated at $75,000+.

“This letter was penned just six weeks after Private Presley arrived in Germany,” said Norwine. “Elvis reveals himself to be more the typical lonely soldier missing his girlfriend back home than the nation's number one entertainment attraction.”

When Elvis wrote he usually kept it short, rarely using more than one page. This is not only one of the longest letters by Elvis known to exist, it is also among the most emotional. The complete text of this fascinating letter is found in Elvis - Word for Word (Osborne Enterprises, 1999), but only the actual handwritten letter can convey the heartfelt outpouring of raw emotion that Anita Wood read as Christmas approached in 1958: "It sure is going to be a blue Christmas this year. But in 15 short months it'll be over and as General MacArthur said, 'I shall return.'"

The 1976 Triumph TR-6 Convertible that Elvis gifted to Ginger Alden, his main lady at the time of his death, is included in the auction, looks as fresh today as it did when Elvis presented it to Alden, and is estimated at $70,000+. A pair Elvis' custom gold-framed sunglasses, made in West Germany by Neostyle, with tinted lenses and 14k gold "TCB" lightning bolt logos at the temples, customized for Presley by his personal optician, Dennis Roberts, during the early 1970s, is expected to bring $20,000+, while Elvis’ .22 Harrington & Richardson Revolver, purchased by him at Tiny's Gun Shop in Palm Springs, CA, serial number 466218, is estimated at $8,000+, and Elvis’ personal address/phone book dating from the mid-‘50s to the early ‘60s – something Elvis kept close to him at all times, loaded with the address and phone number of many big Hollywood stars, plus personal notes (want to know what kind of cigars Colonel Tom Parker preferred?) – is estimated at $3,500+.

Further highlights include, but are not limited to:

Elvis' Opal Ring (Lowell Hays, 1970s): Quite possibly the most beautiful personal effect of Elvis offered in the auction. This stunning opal ring was one of Elvis' favorites, sold to him by famed Memphis jeweler Lowell Hays in the 1970s. The impressive opal is approximately 24 x 20 mm and is surrounded by 34 full cut diamonds with a total weight of 1.45 carats. The ring is 14k gold, with the top an antique broach that's been soldered to the shank. Estimate: $50,000+.

Elvis Presley's Cherub Lamps from His Beverly Hills Home: This striking pair of lamps was imported from Italy by Elvis to add just the right touch to his bedroom suite in Beverly Hills, California. The lamps' bases are gold-painted cherubs holding floral vines leading into four-bulb candelabras. Estimate: $35,000+.

Stay Away Joe - Special Location Radio Program LP (1967): All evidence indicates RCA needed only one copy of this LP -- and made only one copy. That makes it the most sought-after, most valuable Elvis record on the planet. It was made for a one-time broadcast by only one radio station -- KVIO, a Cottonwood, Arizona station that served the Sedona area (where Stay Away, Joe was filmed). Estimate: $30,000+.

Elvis Worn Belt with Photos and Rare Interview Acetate (circa 1956): Elvis must have loved this slim-style belt a lot, as he's wearing it in a lot of photos. The belt appears to be a custom-made item, with no size or any other markings. Included are eight photo prints of Elvis, five prominently featuring the belt (two in color), plus a 1978 issue of Parade Magazine with vintage photos of Elvis (one wearing the belt), and a laminated page from the St. Petersburg Times for Sunday, September 16, 1956, with a photo of Carmelita DeGormar being presented with the belt as winner of a radio contest. Included with the belt is a 12" acetate recording featuring a five-plus minute interview with Elvis that was also presented to Miss DeGormar, as shown in the photo. Estimate: $20,000+.

Elvis Presley's Show Jumpsuit by Nudie Cohn: This pink jumpsuit with hand-sewn jewels and rhinestones was custom-made for Elvis by legendary tailor Nudie Cohn. A rare and fantastic piece of Presleyana. Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Nudie Cohn. Estimate: $8,000+.

Elvis Presley's Loving You Slacks: This pair of maroon Western-style slacks with white piping was a back-up pair made by legendary tailor Nudie Cohn for Elvis during production of his second feature film (and his first Technicolor appearance) in 1957. Nudie's personal label is sewn onto the waistband, and a second Nudie label with Presley's name and a Paramount studio stamp are on the outside lining of one of the back pockets. Estimate: $4,000+.

Images Shown:
Elvis Presley's white grand piano which is going up for auction in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, on 14 August 2010, expected to fetch more than 1 million dollars (767,000 Euros) auctioneers have said. The white Knabe piano was owned and played by Presley for a decade. The singer bought it in 1957 from the Ellis auditorium in Memphis where it had been played by visiting gospel performers for more than 20 years. The piano was placed in Graceland's music room until 1969.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Let's Hope The Lady Comes to Town - I've Already Bought My Tickets Just in Case...

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – A decision on whether Zenyatta will start in the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 7 will be made before entries are due on Wednesday, and indications are that the undefeated two-time champion will start in that Grade 1 race.

Friday at Hollywood Park, Zenyatta worked six furlongs in 1:13.60 under jockey Mike Smith, a workout designed to have her ready for the Clement Hirsch, which is run over 1 1/16 miles. Furthermore, trainer John Shirreffs said there are few other races in the near future that are suitable for Zenyatta’s 18th career start.

“My only influence is that we want to run her a couple of times in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup,” Shirreffs said after the workout. “The options aren’t that many.”

Shirreffs said the decision on whether Zenyatta will start will be made in consultation with owners Jerry and Ann Moss. Jerry Moss attended Friday’s workout at Hollywood Park.

Shirreffs said that how his horses perform on the Del Mar Polytrack in the next few days will influence whether Zenyatta runs in the Hirsch. On Sunday, Shirreffs starts Breakmark in a maiden claimer and Scenic Blast in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes.

“Everybody has to feel good about it,” Shirreffs said of running Zenyatta in the Hirsch.

Shirreffs said the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 29 is not being considered for Zenyatta, but that the $350,000 Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 2 is a “possibility.” Zenyatta has not started since she won the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 13.

If Zenyatta starts in the Clement Hirsch, she will spend the first half of the week training at Hollywood Park, where she is based year-round, and be sent to Del Mar most likely on Wednesday. “I’ll take her down as late as I possibly can,” Shirreffs said. “I would want to school her one day.”

Zenyatta has won the last two runnings of the Clement Hirsch and appears to be approaching the race this year in peak form. Friday, she worked in company with Galayo, a 4-year-old maiden half-brother to 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo and the 2007 Santa Anita Derby winner Tiago. Galayo has not started since December 2008.

When the workout began, Zenyatta was in front for a few strides, but was quickly passed by Galayo, who led by four lengths on the turn. Zenyatta caught her stablemate in early stretch, drawing off to finish about six lengths in front. Sherriffs timed Zenyatta galloping out seven furlongs in 1:27.19. Galayo was timed in 1:15.40.

“I thought that was a really good work,” Shirreffs said. “She does it so easily. She was really relaxed today.”

-steve anderson-

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ohio's Butler Museum to Host Exhibition by Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood

YOUNGSTOWN,OHIO - The Butler Institute of American Art, The Butler Institute of American Art, located at 524 Wick Avenue in Youngstown, will present Ronnie Wood: Paintings, Drawings and Prints beginning September 21st, 2010. This exhibition, accompanied by a full-color catalogue, will continue through November 21st.

Ronnie Wood is both a musician and an artist. His work as singer, guitarist and songwriter with The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and The Faces is well-known. Lesser-known is his ability as a visual artist. Wood has been painting and drawing since age twelve, even longer than he has been playing guitar. According to Butler Director, Dr. Louis Zona, “Ronnie Wood is a most accomplished painter whose work demonstrates a wonderful knowledge of the medium, outstanding technical abilities and an extraordinarily creative mind. The Butler is honored to host the artist’s first major American museum exhibition to showcase this remarkable talent.”

Ronnie Wood was born in Middlesex, England, and is from a musical and artistic family. Before beginning his musical career, he received formal art training at Ealing College of Art in London. As his musical career progressed, Wood continued painting and drawing. Throughout his dual-career he has also depicted the musicians with whom he plays, documented his world tours, and portrayed his recording sessions in vibrant action portraits. He also uses family and close friends, as well as the landscape, as subjects in his art work.

Over the years Wood’s work has been widely exhibited. In 1996, he had a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil. He has had numerous solo shows in North and South America, in the Far East, and throughout Europe. Included in this Ronnie Wood exhibition, the first to be held at a US museum of art, are 30 paintings, 22 pen/pencil drawings, and 7 mixed media works. The show was organized by the Butler with assistance from Daniel Crosby and Danny Stern (SPS Lime Light Agency, Los Angeles and San Francisco) and Bernard Pratt (Pratt Studios, London),

The exhibition catalogue writers are Butler Director and Chief Curator Dr. Louis A. Zona, and David Shirey, Dean of the Graduate Program at Manhattan’s the School of Visual Arts, and former art critic for The New York Times. This exhibition by a well-known British artist is presented as a part of the Butler’s ongoing Influence on America Program, which features exhibitions of work by historic and contemporary artists who have been inspired by or whose work has been informed by American art.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Negatives Verified by Team of Experts as Ansel Adams' Work

A trove of old glass negatives bought at a garage sale for $45 have been authenticated as the lost work of famed nature photographer Ansel Adams and are worth at least $200 million, an attorney for the owner said Tuesday.

A team of experts concluded after an exhaustive, six-month examination that the 65 negatives are Adams' early work, which were believed to have been destroyed in a 1937 fire at his Yosemite National Park studio, Arnold Peter said.

"These photographs are really the missing link," he said. "They really fill the void in Ansel Adams' early career."

Adams is best known for his striking black-and-white photographs, mainly landscapes, of the American West. He died in 1984 at 82.

Rick Norsigian, a construction worker and painter, said he bought the negatives 10 years ago at a Fresno garage sale after bargaining down the seller to $45.

"When I heard that $200 million (figure), I got a little weak," he told a news conference.

Norsigian said he bought the negatives because they contained views of Yosemite but never suspected they might be from Adams, whose images of the Sierra Nevada national park are world famous.

"It took a while, close to two years," before his suspicions were aroused, Norsigian said.

He stored the negatives in a bank vault and hired Peter three years ago to authenticate them.

Peter said two handwriting experts concluded that writing on manila envelopes holding the negatives was that of Adams' wife, Virginia.

He also said a meteorologist studied the cloud formation, snowdrift and shadows on one image and compared it with a similar photograph by Adams, concluding they were taken at the same location on the same day.

The 8½-by-6½-inch negatives are the size that Adams used in the 1920s and 1930s when the photographs appear to have been taken, Peter said, and they are of locations he was known to have snapped, including Yosemite, Carmel and San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf and Baker Beach.

Adams' early negatives were believed to have been lost in the 1937 fire and several of the garage sale negatives appeared to be charred around the edges, Peter said.
Experts surmise they survived the fire and Adams brought them with him when he went to Pasadena in 1941 to teach photography, Peter said.

Norsigian said the man who sold him the negatives said he bought them in the 1940s from a salvage warehouse in Los Angeles.

Art appraiser David W. Streets said he conservatively estimated the negatives' value at $200 million, based on current sales of Adams' prints and the potential for selling reproductions.

Norsigian said he tried to contact the original purchaser after learning of the negatives' true value but has had no success.

"This has been such a long journey. I thought I'd never get to the end," Norsigian said. "It kind of proves a construction worker-painter can be right."

An exhibition of 17 of the photographs is planned for October at Fresno State University, and a documentary is planned on the negatives' sale and authentication, Peter said.

Image Shown:
Rick Norsigian holds up a photograph made from a glass negative shot by the late photographer Ansel Adams during a news conference in Beverly Hills, on Tuesday July 27,2010. A lawyer says the trove of old glass negatives found in a garage sale for 45 dollars by Norsigian a painter from Fresno, Calif. has been authenticated as the work of photographer Ansel Adams and are worth at least $200 million. AP Photo/Nick Ut.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

On a Day Like Today, The First Stone of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was Laid

July 25, 1795.- The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a navigable aqueduct that carries the Llangollen Canal over the valley of the River Dee, between the villages of Trevor and Froncysyllte, in Wrexham in north east Wales. Completed in 1805, it is the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain, a Grade I Listed Building and a World Heritage Site. The name is in the Welsh Language and means junction or link bridge. For most of its existence it was known as Pont y Cysyllte ("Bridge of the Junction").

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Now, that's some cold whiskey!

A crate of Scotch whisky that has been frozen in Antarctic ice for more than a century is being slowly thawed by New Zealand museum officials — for analysis, not to be tasted.

The crate of whisky was recovered earlier this year — along with four other crates containing whisky and brandy — beneath the floor of a hut built by British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton during his 1908 Antarctic expedition.

Four of the crates were left in the ice, but one labeled Mackinlay's whisky was brought to the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island, where officials said Wednesday it was being thawed in a controlled environment.

Nigel Watson, executive director of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, said the whisky might still be liquid.

"When the guys were lifting it, they reported the sound of sloshing and there was a smell of whisky in the freezer, so it is all boding pretty well," he said.

An Antarctic Heritage Trust team that was restoring the explorer's hut found the crates in 2006 but couldn't immediately dislodge them because they were too deeply embedded in the ice.

Drinks group Whyte & Mackay, the Scottish distillery that now owns the Mackinlay's brand, launched the bid to recover the whisky for samples to test and potentially use to relaunch the defunct Scotch.

Watson said the whisky may still be drinkable but would probably not be tasted.

"This was a blend so they are hopeful if there is enough alcohol left and it is in good condition they may be able to analyze and hopefully replicate the liquid so in fact everyone could partake in this," he said.

"It has been put on ice for 100 years so I don't think it is too unromantic a suggestion. The reality is that it is very limited quantities and our focus is on the conservation and not the drinking."

Shackleton's expedition ran short of supplies on its long ski trek to the South Pole from the northern Antarctic coast in 1907-1909 and turned back about 100 miles (160 kilometers) short of its goal.

The expedition sailed away in 1909 as winter ice formed, leaving behind supplies — including the whisky and brandy.